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Time to put the politics of division aside – and invest in our common future

On December 17, a Quebec-based union called la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN) announced it was shutting down its campaign to raid OPSEU/SEFPO’s 9,000 Correctional Bargaining Unit members.

As your Ministry Employee Relations Committee (MERC), Provincial Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee (PJOSHC) and Divisional Health and Safety (DHS) members, we are pleased that CSN has called off its attempt to raid OPSEU/SEFPO members. A raid pits union against union, member against member. It strikes at the heart and cornerstone of the labour movement: solidarity.

As unionized workers, our fight should not be within our union or with other unions. It should be with our employer.

We do not want to focus on the past. There is no place for division, recrimination, or bad feelings. Our eyes are resolutely turned towards the future. A number of significant challenges are before us, including ensuring our workplaces remain as safe as possible as the number of COVID infections continues to increase.

Later this year, we will elect a bargaining team. The team will begin to bargain our second collective agreement as a standalone bargaining unit. To be successful, we will need all hands on deck. We will need to harness the energies and talents of all our members.

In this respect, we are determined to increase the flow of information: from MERC and PJOSHC/DHS to the members, and from the members to the MERC and PJOSHC/DHS. We discovered in the past months that many members, particularly our newer members, did not know how to access important information, notably, relating to pay, benefits and pensions, or the overall functioning of our bargaining unit.

Even the closest families have their disagreements and ups and downs. Now that this raid is over, it is imperative that we set aside our differences, come together, and close ranks.  Can the MERCs/PJOSHC/DHS improve how we communicate? Yes. Can OPSEU/SEFPO continue to grow? Yes. Coming together as the Correctional Bargaining Unit greatly increases the chances of a successful future.

With Bill 124 overshadowing bargaining, it’s time for all of us to work toward a common purpose. As the elected bargaining team takes your demands to the bargaining table, they will be counting on our support and our solidarity. We all need to ask ourselves: What can I do to help ensure a great new contract?

We’ve got a hard job to do and a clear goal to reach. We’re counting on everyone to do their part. Let’s get to work – together.

In solidarity,

SolGen MERC                                                              MCCSS-YJ MERC
Chris Jackel, Co-Chair                                                Peter Harding, Co-Chair
Chad Oldfield, Vice-Chair                                         Mike Fallon, Vice-Chair
Janet Laverty, Member                                             Joanna Sinclair, Probation Member
Scott McIntyre, P&P Member
Adam Cygler, Multi-Category Member

SolGen PJOSHC                                                           MCCSS-YJ DHS
Ryan Graham, Co-Chair                                            Tom Gibson, Co-Chair
Michelle MacLean, Vice-Chair                                 Paula Van Dusen, Vice-Chair
Joely Price, Member                                                  Brian Shewfelt, Probation Member
Denise Sidsworth, P&P Member